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COLLECTIVE – DISORDER BY SOLESEEK
By Phil Thornton
Collective Disorder is yet another book about trainers but unlike all the other books about trainers, this book about trainers is the only book about trainers you’ll ever really need. Collective Disorder, as the name suggests, poses the trainer fan and obsessive a question; are we mental? And, if we are a tad mental, then there are fellow sufferers out there, people who may need clinical help to curb their footwear fetishism. Below is an introductory piece that I scribbled for the lads at Soleseek and Kerso also provides a great piece on the differentiation between a trainer collector and a trainer obsessive; the crucial difference being that a trainer collector when offered an item will ask ‘how much?’ where he, as a fan, will ask ‘what size?’ One collects for collecting’s sake, the other purchases to wear. Collective Disorder is a beautiful item in its own right, encased in a minimalist olive green casing, there are trainers in here that even lightweights like me will drool over. Shot in imaginative and elegant close up, the photography is artful and emphasises the trainer as a modern aesthetic icon. For more information see Soleseek for more details :
The Trainer As Cultural Signifier & Other Pseudo-Academic Bullshit
Let's get this straight, once and for all eh? There's nothing revolutionary about wearing trainers OK? As a famous scouser once sang....
'You talk about a revolution, well you know, we all wanna change the world. But when you talk about Adi Dassler, don't you know that you count me out/in!'
Wearing trainers instead of shoes, boots, sandals, wellies or flip flops was not a momentous evolutionary step for mankind. It didn't change political ideologies or challenge religious dogma however, it did make you look smarter and this is the real point.
Fashion is a bourgeois manifestation of cultural decadence. If you're worried about fashion then you have too much time on your hands. Which is OK by me because, as someone who detests the very notion of work as a moral virtue (all that dignity of labour shite that shackled the workers to some bogus work ethic that wasn't applied to the aristocracy) I plan to have as much time on my hands as possible.
Training shoes became accepted as 'fashion items' rather than utilitarian necessities some time in the late 70s. This may not seems radical in itself and when I denounce fashion as a shallow form of escapism, I do so in the context of a continuing struggle against the massed forces of economic and political oppression. The revolution will not have a website or a limited edition collector's booklet.
But, for the here and now, faced with powers that cannot be usurped, we can create our own alternative power structures and elites. We are the tribe to whom the aesthetic possibilities and cultural heritage of something as seemingly trivial as training shoes has become an all-consuming passion bordering on obsession. We don't call em 'sneakers' or indeed 'kicks' or any other American-isms, we call em trainers or 'trainees.' That is OUR heritage. It's the memory of being confronted by a gang of 150 scallies in Stan Smiths outside a youth club in 1980. It's about spending an entire week's YTS wage on a pair of Olympia S in 1983. It's about wearing Jeans or Gazelles with scuffed flares in 1985 and then getting back into Marathons, VIPs, Roms, Dublins, Spezials, Cortez, Waffles, Wimbledons etc as a reaction against appalling design in the 90s.
Any form of artistic or aesthetic judgement is always entirely subjective yet there is often a collective and inter-connective reaction to the status quo, even if it's subconscious and often isolated in character. In the UK, US and Japan separate communities of trainer obsessives created a backlash against the hideous design of contemporary trainers in the 80s and 90s. This in turn created a 'market' and all scenes and cultures always become contaminated once that word is used. Money corrupts art and trainer design IS art. Trainers can be beautiful objects as well as cultural symbols in their own right. They can be displayed in museums and art galleries as much as shops and internet sites.
It may seem ridiculous and an indictment of our post-modern confusion which fetishes and places value and esteem upon a particular type of footwear but then in a world where everything has become devalued and debased by commerce, why not celebrate something that began as a genuine street style statement and came to take over the world?
Soleseek’s ‘Collective Disorder’ takes the trainer as art object to new levels of refinement; every stitch, every lace, every letter assumes a luminous beauty. The microscopic attention to detail transports the very fabric of the structure to a realm of studious objectification.
Trainers are there to be sold. They function not as abstract concepts but as functional items. Yet, deep down there is an acknowledged inner desire to find holy relics and mythical designs from a romanticised golden age.
This is a crusade of sorts, a moral, aesthetic and economic campaign to enshrine our collective culture against those who think they know best, who think they have ownership, have power, have taste and money to decide what should be cherished or discarded.
As a long haired prophet once said 'Soleseek and ye shall find!'
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